You’ve seen them around: cats without a home, roaming around in your neighbourhood foraging for food, or getting into fights with other cats. Find out some simple ways to care for these community cats around you.
Sometimes, acts of caring for animals may go beyond your comfort zone. We’re talking about not just taking good care of your pet – although yes, responsible pet ownership is crucial – but also to look at the strays in your surrounding environment.
Community cats are usually cats that are either lost or abandoned strays, or naturally bred in the “wild”. You’ll often find a few regularly wandering around your neighbourhood. Many a time, you might be tempted to adopt a community cat (especially if they are oh-so-adorable), or even try to put them up for adoption. However, do note that many cat shelters in Singapore are already at their full capacity. Also, some community cats are well adapted to the “wild”, and would not be happy as traditional pets in a home. On your end, you might not even be able to cope with the additional responsibilities of being a cat owner as well.
However, despite these constraints, you can still easily care for community cats around you with just a little thought and kindness. Here are some tips on what you can do to help them:
Spay or Neuter
Many community cats are homeless or not owned, and have largely been so due to being bred of strays themselves. As such, this creates a breeding cycle that causes the community cat population to grow beyond the point of sustainability. To curb this, one thing you can do for your community cats is the three-fold process of trapping, neutering and returning. First, you would trap these cats in a humane box trap, then subsequently take them for spaying and neutering. This refers to the process of removing a cat’s reproductive organs through a minimally invasive surgical procedure such that they are unable to breed further. After the procedure, simply return the feline friend you found to the environment you first found them in – now with the added reassurance of preventing accidental or uncontrolled breeding.
Food & Water
Another obvious way to help your community cats to survive in their highly changeable and potentially hostile environment is to provide the basics: food. If you so desire, make sure to provide sufficient food and water for your community cats in a regular place so that they come to associate the location as a feeding point. It’s best to feed them daily, usually at the start of the day, so as to prevent attracting other wildlife if food is left overnight. Dry food is also preferred as this can keep longer, and is more resistant to the outdoor elements.
If your neighbourhood is not a well-sheltered area, you might also want to consider making simple shelters for your community cat to reside in and have a reprieve against the elements. It can be as simple as a wooden box, or sturdy cardboard. However do try to ensure that there are more than one opening so that cats can easily exit if they feel threatened. It should also be located in an accessible, yet not overly exposed area.
When you come upon a community cat that seems injured or ill, it’s important to ensure they receive prompt medical attention to prevent their condition from worsening. For medical help, you can approach your nearest veterinary clinic or cat welfare organisation. Alternatively, for minor cuts and skin irritations, you can try antiseptic products as a stop gap measure. As for more serious cases such as those where you suspect cat abuse, you can also report it to SPCA or the police.
Last but not least, education plays a significant part in helping your community cats. As many people in the community see these cats as unhygienic and noisy (all those male cats in heat fighting and wailing contributing to this stereotype) nuisances, not many people are willing to step forward and help. Simply by sharing with others on the simple ways that you can help goes a long way, and helps to create better awareness about these animal friends in our midst.